TCEA has you covered when it comes to wheel spinners, coin flippers, virtual dice, and so many other virtual resources. And now, here comes our lineup of free crossword puzzle makers. Crossword puzzles offer a format that can reinforce and expand vocabulary, test student knowledge, and encourage critical thinking and problem solving in a fun way. So if you’re looking to use this clever word game in the classroom, keep reading.
The History of the Crossword Puzzle
First, a little bit of history. The first known crossword puzzle dates back 111 years. The game was created by journalist Arthur Wynne and was published in the New York World newspaper on December 21, 1913. Wynne’s game was called “Word-Cross.” The puzzle required readers to fill in a diamond-shaped puzzle with interconnected words.
Now, searching the internet, I found that the popular New York Times Crossword is solved by 0.5 to 1.5 million people on a regular basis. Exact numbers are not available publicly. If you are like me, and the NYT puzzle is a bit daunting, try the free Mini Crossword. This puzzle has me hooked just like Connections, and now, I have to play both every day.
Let’s take a look at a few free options for crossword puzzle makers you can use to create crosswords for your students.
Crossword Labs is a crossword puzzle maker that touts three words: free, fast, and easy. The site has no ads or watermarks. First, you create the puzzle title. Then, you work on building the crossword puzzle with the answer, spaces, and clues (one per line.) A free account permits you to print out a PDF of the crossword, and you can share the URL to have students solve the puzzle online. Out of all the sites I researched, this was the only one where you could solve a puzzle online for free. Just know that if you are using the free account, your only choice for the privacy setting is public.
If you create a member account, which is $9.95 for a lifetime membership, you can have a hidden or private link for online crosswords. Additionally, there are one million+ premade crosswords available for your use. Once you are a member, you can also share, edit, and obtain the answers to all those puzzles.
Discovery Education calls its crossword puzzle maker “Criss-Cross.” Their tool has three easy steps: enter a title, enter your words and clues, and check the box if you want instructions to appear below the puzzle. The big bonus here is the Discovery Education website has ALL these additional puzzle makers for free:
- Word search
- Double puzzle
- Fallen phrase
- Math square
- Letter tiles
- Number blocks
- Hidden message
I really like the layout of the CrosswordSpin crossword puzzle maker. All you have to do is enter information for the title and the word and clue list. This puzzle maker also includes options for font size and style, grid size, and layout settings for the clues. Another nice feature is when you download or print your puzzle, two pages are printed: the puzzle and the answers.
Flippity is an online platform that provides various educational tools for teachers. It also provides a crossword puzzle maker. The website uses a Google Spreadsheet template which is what you will modify to make your puzzle. If you are new to Flippity, make sure you check out the demo before heading to the four-step instructions and making your crossword puzzle. Due note the Flippity crossword is designed to be printed and not played online.
The Teacher’s Corner has a nice crossword puzzle maker. They call their crosswords “printable worksheets.” A free account allows a selection of fonts, adding an image, and coloring the cells and background of your puzzles. Just like all the other crossword makers, you enter a title, instructions, and your word and clue list. Free users are limited to 20 characters for words and 125 for clues. Premium members get a bump to 35 characters for words and 250 for clues. They also have tons of premade word and clue sets. Be aware the website does have quite a few popup ads. Several subscription plans are available.
Whether you choose the straightforward Crossword Labs, the versatile Discovery Education tools, the visually appealing CrosswordSpin, the Google Spreadsheet-based Flippity.net, or the customizable options from The Teacher’s Corner, incorporating crossword puzzles in your classroom can reinforce vocabulary, test knowledge, and foster critical thinking in an enjoyable way. And if I missed a crossword puzzle maker that rocks your world, drop a comment and let me know!